Milwaukee Brewers: Is Trevor Bauer a trade target?

As the MLB offseason is gearing up, it’s well-known around baseball that the Milwaukee Brewers are looking for a starting pitcher. With James Paxton now off of the table, could Milwaukee turn their sights to current Cleveland Indian Trevor Bauer?

Not long after the conclusion of the World Series, the Cleveland Indians announced that they are open to trading most players on their roster except for a few young players in particular. Based on recent reports Cleveland has been drawing a lot of attention, specifically in regards to their starting rotation.

Understandably, Corey Kluber has drawn a lot of attention from suitors but in 2018, right-hander Trevor Bauer had a breakout season and could be the piece that helps the Milwaukee Brewers with their World Series push in 2019.

Bauer in 2018

Over the course of his career, Bauer has put together a decent resume as a starting pitcher. He has a career ERA of 3.94 and his opponents have put together a slash line against of .242/.389/.709. Bauer also brings post season experience to the table as well, making 10 career playoff starts with an ERA of 3.81. Come playoff time, experience in the post season is invaluable.

However 2018 was like no season that Bauer had ever put together. He made 28 starts covering 175 1/3 innings and posted an ERA of 2.21 (2nd in the AL), 221 strikeouts (5th) and recorded a WHIP of 1.089 (6th). Overall just a fantastic season.

Perhaps the biggest contributor to Bauer’s success was that he didn’t give up the home run ball very often. Going back to his previous three seasons, Bauer gave up 23 home runs in 2015, 20 in 2016 and 25 in 2017. But in 2018 he allowed just 9, a far cry from past years and a huge factor in his stat line.

What does Bauer throw?

Bauer is one of the more versatile pitchers in the game as he has six pitches in his repertoire and is willing to throw any of them at any time. Given the wide variety of pitches to choose from, Bauer split up the usage between them quite well in 2018.

With that said, there are three pitches in particular that he favors, the fastball, curveball and a slider.

Although effective, the fastball can be what gets Bauer in trouble as he generates a high number of fly-balls with it, which has contributed to his higher home run totals. Potentially this could be an issue playing in the hitter friendly confines of Miller Park. Even so, this past season he did a much better job of locating his fastball in down in the zone.

When it comes to his curveball and slider, Bauer is much more effective at creating ground balls. His curve has a great bite to it and will dive into the dirt. While the slider sweeps across the zone and also generates a relatively high number of swings and misses.

What’s his contract status?

During this past season Bauer had a salary of $6.25 million, nearly double what he was paid in 2017. Even though he is under team control until 2021, Bauer is up for arbitration and is expected to be due roughly $11.6 million in 2019. This amount could increase as he is up for arbitration again in 2020.

A concern for the Milwaukee Brewers if they were to acquire Bauer is that he has openly stated that he will never sign more than a one-year deal with any team.

For a team like the Brewers who will most likely have to give up some very good players to secure Bauer, you have to worry that after 2021 he may just hop from big pay check to big pay check which will not be a favorable scenario for Milwaukee.

What will Milwaukee have to give up?

Given the season that Bauer had in 2018, the Indians demands most likely won’t be small. According to Ken Rosenthal, Cleveland is looking for young players in return as well as adding to their outfield.

It wouldn’t come as a surprise if they initially ask for Corbin Burnes, but as we all know he is off limits. Or perhaps Cleveland will demand a trade package of Brandon Woodruff and Keon Broxton or Domingo Santana for example, to give themselves a young pitcher and an outfielder with experience.

Regardless, the Milwaukee Brewers will have to part ways with a higher profile player or two.

Like with any trade there are some risks involved in acquiring Bauer, such as will he continue to build on his 2018 season? Or will Milwaukee be able to resign him after 2021? However, if GM David Stearns and manager Craig Counsell think Bauer will put them closer to a World Series, it may be worth picking up the phone.